A major work by Uruguay’s most important painter Juan Manuel Blanes of a Gaucho has been re-discovered here in Sussex by Toovey’s fine art consultant Tim Williams. It will be sold at Toovey’s Washington salerooms on February 15th and carries a pre-sale estimate of £80,000-£120,000.
Juan Manuel Blanes (1830-1901) is renowned for painting grand history paintings and portraits, as well as scenes and events that shaped Uruguay’s national identity during the years of conflict that resulted in independence from Spain.
The Uruguayan national gallery in Montevideo is named Museo del Bellas Artes Juan Manuel Blanes and houses the largest collection of the artist’s work.
Tim’s research has revealed the painting’s remarkable provenance. The first owner of the painting was the notable Spanish aristocrat Baldomero Hyacinth de Bertodano, 7th Marquis de Moral. He lived at Cowbridge House near Malmsbury in Wiltshire and the painting hung there until his death in 1921. The contents of Cowbridge House were auctioned to divide the estate between five family members. The painting was included in the sale. Described as ‘A fine Oil Painting, The Gaucho on the Pampas in Argentine about 52 by 46 ins’. Baldomero’s brother, Charles Edmund de Bertodano, a notable Railway engineer, purchased the painting from the auction and it has remained with his family to the present day.
The landscape being sold at Toovey’s depicts a scene with a Gaucho on horseback pointing, as two horsemen gallop away on the horizon. Despite the reference to Argentina in the Cowbridge House auction catalogue, the painting in fact shows a Uruguayan prairie. The golden glow of Blanes’s palette and the way that he paints the effect of light playing on that prairie is remarkable.
Tim explains how Blanes’ Gaucho paintings celebrate the way of life of these independent, rugged horsemen whose lives embodied the South American ‘Wild West’ and national identity in a similar way to the cowboys of the United States. The open prairie beneath an expansive sky would have contrasted with the pressured urban lives of the cosmopolitan collectors who patronised Blanes’ work.
Commenting on the forthcoming auction Tim said “This is the first time that this important painting has appeared on the market in some 102 years – I can’t wait until sale day to see what happens!”
Juan Manuel Blanes’ Gaucho on Horseback in a Uruguayan Prairie Landscape, oil on canvas, circa 1879-1885, will be auctioned at Toovey’s on February 15th with a pre-sale estimate of £80,000-£120,000